According to the Prince, these killings took place while he was serving as an Apache helicopter pilot during his second tour of Afghanistan. Prince Harry served in the army for ten years, including in the Helmand province, ending his military career at the rank of captain in June 2015.
In Spare, Prince Harry described those he killed as “chess pieces removed from the board”, saying he felt neither proud nor ashamed of them. Yet critics say he should feel ashamed about discussing them in such detail. Former army officer Colonel Richard Kemp told the BBC that the Prince’s comments were “ill-judged” and had tarnished his reputation.
Colonel Kemp expressed unease about the Prince seeing the Taliban figures as chess pieces rather than humans saying: “That’s not the way the British Army trains people as he claims…”
Some military figures were deeply critical of the prince publicising his kill count, including Conservative MP Adam Holloway, who fought for the British Army in Iraq. Writing in the Spectator, Holloway said he didn’t think he had ever heard anyone talk publicly about this. Despite lots of soldiers knowing how many people they have killed, their silence was based not on macho codes but “decency and respect for the lives you have taken”.
Similarly, Conservative MP Colonel Bob Stewart, the first UN Military Commander of British Forces in Bosnia, told MailOnline: “I wonder why he is doing such things. Real soldiers tend to shy away…People I know don’t boast about such things. They rather regret that they have had to do it.”
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The consequences of Harry’s candour could be far deeper than simply lacking respect. Speaking to the Sun, Colonel Kemp said Harry’s reference to his kill count “undermines his personal security. He has shot himself in the foot… it will probably incite those who want to take revenge and try and do so”.
Colonel Kemp also remarked the comments could “incite some people to attempt an attack on British soldiers anywhere in the world” and that those who support the Taliban may now be “motivated to kill Harry” because of the memories that have been “resurrected” by his comments.
The Prince has previously spoken about his security concerns after stepping down from a senior royal role, stating new security cannot replicate the necessary police protection needed in the UK. Indeed, Harry was successfully granted permission to bring a High Court challenge against the Home Office regarding his security arrangements in July 2022. After his latest remarks, could these be subject to urgent change?
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